A few weeks later
It had been sixteen years since I died and became a Grim Reaper. I had guided many a soul to the Underworld, but never in my wildest dreams could I have guessed that hers might be one of them.
The Same Year (1920)
“They’re all dead.”
Aurora heard a voice, but where was it coming from? Her mind was foggy. Nothing made sense, and why couldn’t she open her eyes? She tried again, but she couldn’t move a muscle. What was happening?
It was her sixteenth birthday. Her parents were home, and she had big things planned for the day. Beyond that, she remembered nothing. Where were her parents? Were they with her? All those thoughts were giving her a headache.
“What about her?” another voice said.
Still, she couldn’t open her eyes. Who were these people, and why were they talking so loudly? Who were they talking about anyway? Fear had gripped her heart, and she was having trouble breathing. She tried to take a deep breath, but her lungs failed her. Only if she knew what was happening then, she might be able to push back the onslaught of panic.
She recalled arguing with her parents earlier. They were refusing to even consider her feelings, adamant that she must remain on the island. They told her that she was too young to understand the depth of the danger they faced. They didn’t want her caught in the middle of a mafia war.
“She’s as good as dead. I mean, a bullet to the heart? There’s no way she’ll survive that.”
“But I think she’s still alive.”
She wanted to know as well, but she couldn’t fully understand the situation. Vaguely, she wondered if they were talking about her or if there was someone else there?
After arguing with her parents, she had run to her bedroom and locked herself in the hidden room behind the bookshelves.
Her father had shown this room to her when she was a kid. It had fascinated her, and over the years, she had begun to use it as her sanctuary. It was where she felt the safest. Only a few people knew about it. It was one of many secrets this mansion held close to its bosom.
“Leave her. What do we care, anyway? We’ve gotten rid of the entire Bakai gang in one day. Our targets were Lord Atticus and his family. Now that they are all dead, I say that’s a win.” She heard a laugh then. “This girl isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Even if she’s alive right now, it’s only a matter of minutes before she meets her parents in the afterlife.”
It hurt. Aurora didn’t know why but somewhere, in her heart — Something hurt like hell.
“Well, that happens when you get lax and start hoping for peace. There’s none to be found in this world. High and mighty Lord Atticus has finally met his maker.”
Wait, were they talking about her father? Oh no! Her father was dead. The moment it dawned on her, she tried with zealous to open her eyes, to ask them who the hell they were?
“Let’s go and report.”
She heard retreating footsteps, and a door closed with a bang. After that, she heard nothing but silence. She waited. For how long? She had no idea. But no one came, nothing else happened, and she laid there in deafening silence, with her eyes closed, her body unable to move, and her mind unable to rest. Then, sometime along the line, came blissful darkness and engulfed her whole.
It was his two-hundred and twenty-second assignment. A war between the two gangs had taken place in this mansion. As Prince Phillip stood near the bottom of a staircase, he looked around him. At least a dozen dead bodies were lying there haphazardly. The blood was pooling near his feet. He knew this would be hell. Collecting so many souls at once wasn’t going to be easy, but he needed to follow each thread in his hand and take them back to the Underworld.
It took him a while, but now only four threads remained in his hands. He followed the three that were together. They led him upstairs to the third floor of the mansion. As he walked towards the room at the end of the hallway, he began to feel strange. The place was vaguely familiar. He had been there before.
He tried to remember, but nothing came to mind. Over the past few years, he had begun to forget many things about his life. He was still trying to recall when he came face to face with the three of the four remaining souls he needed to guide. That’s when the pieces fell together, and his world came crumbling down, once again.
There in front of him stood the souls of his best friends and the love of his life. They were confused, as was the norm with newly dead. If Grim Reapers could cry, he would have cried a million tears then. His heart was torn. Once again, he was betrayed by his cruel fate.
Hima and Atticus had said at the same time. Mark stood there silently, looking at him as if he had seen a ghost.
“How are you here?” Hima asked as if not believing her eyes.
He couldn’t respond. His voice had lost him. What was he supposed to say? ‘Hey, guess what, you are all dead, and I’m here to take you to the Underworld?’
“We are dead. Aren’t we?” Mark was the first one to realize the truth.
“Yeah, that would make sense,” Atticus said, sighing. “So, that’s how it ended.”
“But what about Aurora?” Hima asked, horrified.
“I hope she is fine. Some of my men must have saved her. At least, she isn’t here,” Mark said, although his voice held little hope.
As they talked in their confusion, Phillip stood there unmoving. He was trying to collect himself, mustering up all his courage, and preparing to take his friends to their final destination.
“So, what now?” Atticus looked at him, waiting for an answer.
“Prince?” Hima prompted.
He let go of the threads in his hand. He couldn’t bring himself to do it. He watched in horror as the four threads faded away slowly, disappearing from his view. His friends’ souls began to disappear too.
“Get a hold of yourself, Reaper!” A voice boomed from behind Phillip, bringing him out of his fazed state. He reached out with his hands to quickly grasp the threads, not realizing that he was only able to get a hold of three soul threads instead of four. “Let’s get going. You have wasted enough time daydreaming.”
Without saying anything, he followed Ann out of the mansion. She was his supervisor in the early years. She was the one who had trained him and taught him what it meant to be a Grim Reaper. Good thing she was there to save him from his stupidity.
“As soon as I realized what your assignment was, I knew this would happen,” Ann said, giving him a withering look. “That’s why I followed you here.” He noticed that she was just as emotionless as she had always been. Anger was the only emotion she had ever shown him, but her actions showed that she cared.
He said nothing in response. They were treading on the path leading to the Underworld. Phillip’s three friends were following them silently. He didn’t say anything to any of them. There was nothing to be said. Soon, they would move on to the other side, and he would once again be left alone to drown in his misery. He wondered how long before he lost all his emotions and forgot all his woes.
To be continued…
© 2020 Fizza Younis. All Rights Reserved.